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IT TAKES A VILLAGE…The Latino Engagement Team of the ARC

As a nurse, Clara Barton medically attended to Black soldiers and assisted in their attempts to freedom.

It’s easy to predict our “Angel on the Battlefield” would have continued

that path of humanity as she assisted everyone in need.

Today the spirit of Clara Barton endures, as the American Red Cross (ARC) serves everyone, through

wildfires, hurricanes, and even a global pandemic. The ARC serves all people regardless of citizenship or language barrier.

However, serving one of the most vulnerable Latino communities, migrant farm workers – many of whom are undocumented – who continue to put food on our nation’s tables, has remained a challenge during this pandemic disaster response.

In 2016, current ARC President of Humanitarian Services, Harvey Johnson, sent Norma Vega from the Los Angeles Region to Hurricane Matthew to assess how the Red Cross delivered services to vulnerable Latino communities.

Per Norma, “Harvey wanted me to come back with recommendations for improving and ensuring equitable services to all. The Latino Engagement Team (LET) evolved through the engagement of partners and national organizations.

Working with April Wood and National Community Partnerships LET took root”. Then in 2017, former Los Angeles Regional CEO Jarrett Barrios and CEO Celena Roldan formalized the LET initiative, which continues to give voice to the voiceless.

In time, Anjana Dayal de Prewitt and Pedro Carrera were brought in to provide for national support for LET efforts. A call placed to Pedro and Norma brought a full activated team to the recent Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR) fires. Carisa Hettich deployed from the Cascades Region. Patty Madera from Los Angeles Region and Letty Escobar from the SoCal Region.

Per Pedro Carrera, “LETs build on Community Engagement Partnerships (CEP) service delivery, best practices, to serve communities in an inclusive manner during disaster operations and steady-state activities. They are community-facing teams that facilitate access to our services, facilitate action for building resilience, and build relationships and trust with Latino organizations and populations.”

The NCCR disaster was a good example of how the LET Team was able to enhance service delivery and increase greater accessibility to services.Moreover, for two weeks Carisa, Patty, and Letty searched for pockets of Latino farmworkers who lacked food and water. They spoke of our ARC with professional pride.

In partnership with the United Farm Workers (UFW) we learned of a shortage of N-95 masks, drinking water, diapers and toys to entertain the children.

To the rescue came Mary De Witt from CEP. She was instrumental in securing from national partners diapers from Baby to Babies and children play kits from Children Disaster Services.

It soon became a LET event a few weeks ago that was attended by 700 of their members during the pandemic.

The village was coming together with additional Red Cross support of 8 pallets of water, food, and snacks handed out.

Per Santa Cruz Executive Director Michele Averill, “The LET epitomizes how trust can be obtained through building relationships in a community; listening to the needs of our most vulnerable populations; and delivering on those needs."

Michele continued, "Our Latino communities are reluctant to ask for support, especially if they think we are a governmental organization. It is our Red Cross responsibility to educate our community that the Red Cross is a neutral organization and makes no discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class, or political opinions. The ARC endeavors to relieve the suffering of individuals, being guided solely by their needs, and to give priority to the most urgent cases of distress.”

In answer to the needs addressed on this disaster, ARC launched a Community Engagement Resource Forum (CERF) to connect with 8 local organizations to provide and receive on the ground information.

Per Elizabeth Gonzalez of UFW, “the American Red Cross has been key, in helping us help our community.” The result of the UFW and the CERF meetings was an increase in service delivery and organizational trust-building.

Through our fundamental principles, the Latino Engagement Team is here to serve and we are confident at the Red Cross that we are making Clara Barton proud!


Volunteers carry out 90% of the humanitarian work of the Red Cross.

The Red Cross is always ready to help the local community!

Due to predictions for an active hurricane and wildfire season and the complexities of COVID-19, the Red Cross will need thousands of volunteers to care for people when disasters strike.

Whether helping one displaced family or thousands. The Red Cross provides care and comfort to all citizens.

The Red Cross readily provides training for others on how to respond in emergencies.

Why is the Red Cross always ready, willing and able? Because, through the efforts of ordinary people, they can do extraordinary things.

If you unable to volunteer, then please do the next best thing...DONATE BLOOD!

Porque tu sangre es el jugo de la vida!

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